Commuting and Everyday Use; Considerations For Running a Classic Car
Classic cars, especially younger ones, can be viable everyday transport. However the driver does have to be aware of limitations and have realistic expectations.
Cars benefit from frequent use particularly when it is long enough to bring everything up to temperature. Short trips cause disproportionate wear and tear on all systems from the battery to engine lubrication so using a classic car every day appears an attractive option.
Choice of Classic Car for Everyday Use
The younger the classic the more like a modern car it will be. Everyday use needs a model that can keep up with modern traffic especially in terms of acceleration, braking and cruising speed. Many cars from before the 1970s were not happy cruising at typical European motorway speeds of 70mph or more for extended periods; many early post-war cars would barely reach that speed.
Maintenance Needs and Parts Availability
As discussed in a previous article; older cars need frequent maintenance and this should be borne in mind when choosing a classic car for everyday. Also parts availability may be limited (or expensive) which could leave the driver without transport even during routine maintenance.
Even where parts are available they will often have extended delivery times. This will require greater planning of maintenance by the historic car user.
Rust is a problem with older cars and it will not be helped by salt on winter roads. Minor accident damage may also require difficult to find of body parts.
Maintenance implications must then be a major consideration when choosing a classic car for routine use especially where the annual mileage is significant.
A classic car should be aware of the safety implications as older cars will not usually have air-bags or even a rigid safety cell and crumple zones. They were not designed for modern high-speeds or crowded roads and the consequent higher-energy accidents. Safety standards have improved markedly even in the last ten years.
Older cars do not have the theft and access protection of modern cars. More recent classics may have alarms and even immobilisers but they are not as sophisticated and criminals will know how to bypass them.
For cars from the 1970 s and earlier it is easy to open doors or trunk (boot); often all it takes is a key from a similar car. That often worked when they were nearly new! Now the locks are worn a screwdriver will often open them.
To protect such cars a modern third-party alarm and immobiliser will be advisable as may a visible deterrent such as a steering wheel or gearbox lock. They will not prevent entry to the vehicle interior so nothing of value should be left in an unattended classic car as it will probably not be insured.
As described in a separate article; low-cost Classic Car Insurance will often have too many restrictions and may expressly prevent commuting or other normal uses. However the specialist insurers should be the starting point when looking for everyday cover but seek competitive car insurance quotes.
Comfort, Refinement, Economy and General Usability
Older classic cars will not have the refinement or fuel economy that is taken for granted on a new car. Even luxury models may be noisier and less comfortable than modest modern cars. Classics often lack creature comforts, such as power steering and air-conditioning, which are now universal. Many attractive classics even lack what wopuld now be considered basic features such as servo-assisted brakes or even heated rear windscreens.
Advice When Buying an Everyday Classic
It is particularly important when buying an everyday classic car to buy with one's head rather than heart so it is recommended that knowledgeable support is sought.
Whilst a basic car may be fun as a weekend recreational vehicle, it may rapidly become an irritation on frosty mornings when the driver just wants to get to work. As the linked article suggests; Expectations Have Changed rapidly since the older car was everyday transport.
First appeared on Suite101